Letter from Hugh MacArthur: The Beginning of the Rest of the Story?

This letter introduces Bain’s 2019 Global Private Equity Report. Explore the contents of the report here or download the PDF to read the full report.

Dear Colleague:

The past five years have been ones of unprecedented success for the private equity industry. During that span, more money has been raised, invested and distributed back to investors than in any other period in the industry’s history. Private investment in general, and private equity in particular, seems to be on a secular penetration curve that has no end in sight. Yet, there are also some cautionary notes to sound.

Returns, while still strong relative to other asset classes, have slowly declined toward public market averages during the period. Persistent high prices, volatile capital markets, US–China trade arguments, Brexit worries and, of course, the ever-present threat of recession have injected a sense of uncertainty that dealmakers dislike. The pace of technological change is also increasing in almost every industry, making it harder to forecast winners and losers. So, while the good times are rolling, some bells of worry are tolling.

In this, Bain’s 10th-anniversary Global Private Equity Report, we look fearlessly at the industry’s strengths, its challenges and the evolutionary path that lies ahead. In addition to the critical statistics that characterize PE industry performance, you’ll find our assessment of how to do “buy-and-builds” properly and why this tactic is increasing in popularity. Building on last year’s assertion that PE firms need to increase their 10% share of the approximately 40,000 M&A deals done globally each year, we discuss how firms are building merger integration muscles to better compete with corporate buyers, and why the integration process should begin during due diligence. We also take a hard look at adjacency strategy 2.0 and the new wave of equity products that many PE firms are moving into aggressively, hoping to find higher returns and more productive ways to invest capital at scale.

In addition, we zero in on exciting topics such as advanced analytics, which speeds insight in both diligence and post-close value addition; liquidity solutions for general partners; and the Chinese PE market, which is on the leading edge in areas like technology.

We close our 2019 review of important trends in private equity by getting out our crystal ball. It’s a bit cloudy (as is everyone’s), but we see fundamental shifts happening in capital markets that are likely to drive a long-term trend toward much larger private capital (and private equity) opportunities vs. traditional public equity models. This ongoing movement will have seismic impacts for providers of capital, investors of that capital and for the companies owned by a widening variety of private models. It portends a future in which a much larger share of capital flows into private markets. Perhaps this is indeed the beginning of “the rest of the story” for the PE industry.

Hugh MacArthur
Head of Global Private Equity

Explore the contents of Bain’s 2019 Global Private Equity Report here or download the PDF to read the full report.


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